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On Sunday, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway broke with Trump’s assertion that journalists are “the enemy of the people,” though she continued to defend her boss’ attacks on the press.

“I think some journalists are enemy of the relevant and enemy of the news you can use,” Conway told CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

I don't quite understand the part in bold above.

  • Especially, why has the article "the" been removed from the phrases, "enemy of the relevant" and "enemy of the news", but "the" is included in "the enemy of the people"?
  • What is "you can use" modifying - "the enemy" or "news"?
  • What does "the relevant" mean?

The full source.

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    For what it's worth, it's obvious that Yahoo and/or HuffPo has not edited the writer's rough draft at all. Look at the quote marks being used: ″There is press bias,” Wallace interrupted... he said, ”‘Cause war,’ ’sick,’ ‘divisive’ ― this is taking it to a completely different level.” They're all over the place. – lly Aug 6 '18 at 16:18
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Adjectives can be used nominally to refer abstractly to the class of entities which possess the attribute:

The rich, the poor.

The relevant, the irrelevant.

The old, the young.

The brand new and the second-hand.

enemy can be construed as a so-called 'role-noun' and it can be used without an article. Compare this passage where we find as enemy of the people:

As for Doriot, Hitler's phonograph, he's now on the side of La Rocque and Taittinger, in his true place as enemy of the people.

[p. 144 in In Pursuit of the People: Political Culture in France 1934-39. Jessica Wardaugh. 2009]

P.S. you can use is a clause modifying news.

Mushrooms you can eat = edible (i.e. non-poisonous) mushrooms.

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    They are examples of role-nouns but it is far more encompassing. Almost any noun can be cast as the class to which it belongs: He was using the ladle as hammer. The ladle was playing the role of hammer. The word "role" is not an ideal label for the phenomenon. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 6 '18 at 11:41
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    Is it also correct to say He was using the ladle as a hammer.? – dan Aug 6 '18 at 11:49
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    It might be worth pointing out here that "News you can use" is a set phrase often found in promotions for local newscasts. – Darren Ringer Aug 6 '18 at 13:17
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    @Dan: I don't know what you are referring to by "this". Bald statements of that type are not idiomatic because you're referring to yourself, a particular entity. There we would normally say a cook. I'm a cook. But you could say I was cook on the expedition or I have been promoted from dishwasher to cook. or He came to us as friend, not as enemy. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 6 '18 at 14:28
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    It's what I guessed but if I present you with a basket of freshly picked mushroom, I can say "Here are some mushrooms which you can eat" compared to "Here is some news which you can use" Use for what? I get it, I do but it's the first time I've come across this catchphrase, so I need time to digest it fully :) . – Mari-Lou A Aug 6 '18 at 16:31
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You are right. Since "enemy" is never uncountable, we always need to use either "the" or "a".

New York Post uses "the" before "enemy of the relevant and enemy of the news you can use":

“I don’t believe journalists are the enemy of the people. I think some journalists are the enemy of the relevant and enemy of the news you can use,” Conway said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

In the second sentence "the" refers to "both enemies": the one of the relevant and the one of the news.

I believe on that Yahoo page they simply made a mistake.

  • What does it mean, "the enemy of the relevant"? – dan Aug 6 '18 at 8:46
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    If someone is an "enemy of the relevant" it means they want to focus on irrelevant things. Relevant things are meaningful and important to the situation, while irrelevant things are not, and usually meant to distract from what is important. (trying really hard not to expose Conway's hypocrisy and just stick to the language lesson lol) And "news you can use" is just another way of saying relevant news. – Jay A. Little Aug 6 '18 at 9:11
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    -1. enemy can be construed as a so-called 'role-noun' and it can be used without an article. Compare this passage where we find both as leader and as enemy of the people: books.google.com/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 6 '18 at 10:33
  • Regarding the need always to use an article in front of enemy, how about: "Enemy, he's no enemy", my friend exclaimed, "he's a friend!" – Ronald Sole Aug 6 '18 at 12:28
  • @RonaldSole There can be no article before "the second" enemy because there is "no", which is a determiner. As for the first word, I think it's a kind of exclamation. Some other example: "Cat! There's a cat!" Usually we use a/the before "cat" but not in this case. – Enguroo Aug 6 '18 at 22:58
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“I think some journalists are enemy of the relevant and enemy of the news you can use,”

Based on your comments on other answers, I think the piece that you're missing is that "news you can use" is a well-known "stock phrase", popular among media outlets because of its rhyming scheme. It means simply "news that is useful".

So you should parse the sentence like this:

I think some journalists are (the) enemy of the relevant and (the) enemy of "the news you can use"

Or, in other words, she is saying:

I think some journalists (the ones Trump is criticizing) are not interested in relevant and "useful" stories.

The implication being that stories and investigations about Trump's (alleged) corruption and/or connection with Russia are neither relevant nor useful. Clearly, that's a political claim, so outside the scope of this site.

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“I think some journalists are enemy of the relevant and enemy of the news you can use,” Conway told CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

Pace Enguroo, it looks like Ms Miller, Yahoo, and/or the Huffington Post didn't mangle the quote. The official transcript of the program reads:

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you don't believe journalists--

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Sorry if I can't get--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --are the enemy of the people?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: I don't believe journalists are the enemy of the people. I think some journalists are enemy of the relevant--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: --and enemy of the news you can use. And I think that most of- most of the sins are sins of omission not commission- meaning--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

1) “Enemy” is countable and should have an article in front of it. The transcript might have missed it, or Ms Conway might have been trying to talk quickly over the host's interruptions and left it out by accident.

2) It is common in English to omit “that” when its presence is easily understood by native speakers. In this case, the full form of the expression would be “the enemy of the news that you can use,” with the restrictive clause modifying the nearest noun. It just means useful news but gets said this way because of the pleasant rhythm and rhyme of the expression.

3) As Trom explained, rhetorical English can treat an adjective as a noun to describe the class of people or things which share that attribute. “The poor” are all poor people taken together, “the dead” are all dead people taken together, and “the relevant” here means all relevant news taken together.

The upshot is that Ms Conway is trying to affirm Mr Trump's main point (in his case mostly motivated by instinctive malice towards anyone saying unflattering things about him) by

  • leaving the indefensible ground his hyperbole established (America traditionally sees the free press as a bulwark of liberty rather than an enemy of the people, which is itself a phrase usually associated with Soviet totalitarianism); and

  • expressing a truism that at least some members of the press focus on sensationalism for the sake of ratings and advertising revenue, rather than careful consideration of facts for the sake of an informed public.

Supporters of Mr Trump will take away that she is supporting him; Mr Trump ideally will take away a better way to express his animosity without sounding like he's annoyed to be running a democracy with a free press; and opponents will be annoyed that she's moving the goalposts but can't really argue with the truth of what she herself has just said.

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